Whenever I see a FB post that says something like "25 grammar mistakes everyone makes" I ALWAYS take the test.
My aim isn't to give the real right answers because I know that will get me a less than perfect score. Instead, my aim is to try to second guess which non-rules the test compiler believes are true and get a perfect score by giving, where necessary, the wrong answer.
I just did one. 21/21 BUT only by giving two answers that I knew to be wrong in modern grammatical English.
And those two are?
The insistence on using "whom" in sentences like "This is the man whom I saw." which just makes you sound pompous.
The insistence on a clear and artificial distiction between "which" and "that".
The actual sentence was
Do you see who/whom I see?
And I'll bet there isn't on person an ten thousand who would say "whom" though it's drawn plenty of comment from people claiming they would.
And although it fits with my own usage the insistence that the plural of grapefruit has to be grapefruit rather than grapefruits seems more of a personal quirk than anything else.
I really hate the whole "which/that" kerfuffle.
I hate it when someoine says This is the person which (some action): Isn't "who" needed there?
Here is a very old thread from 2004 where we talked about "which/that".
"Which" for people used to be common but not any more.
It's my understanding that the which/that controversy was never based on anything, but the anal grammarians, like Strunk and White, have stuck to the made-up rule.
Here is one of many Language Log entries about it.
Haha Bob that grapefruit rule is pretty silly. 'How many fish did you catch?', yes. 'How many sheep did you count?', yes. 'How many grapefruit did you buy?': debatable!
Speaking of plurals, my sister was in from out of town (thus my scant posting), and she mentioned that our niece collects octopi [sic]. We had a conversation about the real plural of octopus, which I am sure everyone here knows...
I bought one, then another.
Reminds me of the zoo director who needed several animalsw for an exhibit, one being a mongoose. Wile preparing the order for a mating pair, he realized he didn't know the plural for mongoose. Since he didn't want to appear uneducated, he sent "Please send me one mongoose. While you're at it please send me another one."
octopuses or octopi
Octopuses or octopodes, I thought.
I always thought the plural was octopi, but not so, according to Wikipedia:
I suppose, like other words, octopuses, though originally wrong, has become accepted. I can't understand why ocotopodes is pedantic. Are these irregular plurals pedantic then, too?
How do you know "octopuses" was originally wrong?
Imo "octopodes" is pedantic because it's not actually used outside of discussions about the correct plural of "octopus".
I could swear I heard of ctopussy omewhere.
Octopussy, 1983 James Bond movie.
I thought that, Goofy, because "octopus" has its origin in ancient Greek, and not Latin, which would mean "octopodes" is the correct plural. However, the Grammarist seems to take your position that it has been an English word so long that "octopuses" is correct, which is similar to other conventions, I guess.
Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους (oktōpous) has the plural ὀκτώποδες (oktōpodes).
Latin "octopus" was borrowed from Greek and is a third declension noun, so its plural is "octopodes".
But why are we looking at other languages to find out what the English plural is? "Octopodes" has never been a plural in English. According to the OED the earliest English plural is "octopi".
As if I didn't know....
The OED also says that, while "rare" octopedes is "Brit." Interestingly, the OED lists the plurals sequentially as octopuses, octopi and octopedes. Clearly octopi is a mistaken term, though used. It assumes that octopus is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not. Rather, it is (Latinized) from ancient Greek, from oktṓpous (ὀκτώπους), gender masculine, whose plural is oktṓpodes (ὀκτώποδες). If the word were native to Latin, it would be octōpēs ('eight-foot') and the plural octōpedes, analogous to centipedes and mīllipedes, as the plural form of pēs ('foot') is pedes (English Language & Usage).
As for "why should it be the Greek plural when it's an English word?", well, why are French or German words often pronounced their way, and not the English way? Why isn't it Ill-in-noise, instead of Ill-in-noy? It's the same to me, though I suspect it won't be for you, goofy, because you seem to love to argue with me.
"Octopi" is based on a mistake, but that's irrelevant. "Octopodes" is the correct plural in Latin and Greek but that's also irrelevant. "Octopi" and "octopuses" are used as the plurals in English, therefore they are the English plurals.
And it seems that they have always been the only plurals. "Octopodes" is never used outside of discussions like this, which imo don't count. The OED lists "octopodes" as a plural, but they don't give any citations. I assume that if "octopodes" has been used in actual running text, then there would be citations.
It's not exactly that I love arguing with you, it's that sometimes it seems to me that you don't understand me. Why else would you disagree with me? This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
Perhaps the OED needs to look a bit further. (BTW, I found that in 10 seconds.)
At any rate, you are right about "octopuses." Were I the OED, however, I'd point out the mistaken aspect of "octopi." It was only when my husband started searching for citations for OED when I found out (as did Shu) how lacking many of their citations are. He worked hard to improve them. However, that made me realize the fallibility in it.
Okay. I suppose you're right about mistaken words, such as "irregardless," which is in the OED.
BTW, I forgot about your Blog, Goofy. Is it still going? That was a great page.
Not just words like irregardless; many words that everyone considers completely unremarkable arose because of mistakes.
hangnail: from "angnail", "ang" meaning "tight, painfully constricted"
shamefaced: from "sceamfæst" meaning "bashful, modest"
crayfish: from "crevise"
syllabus: a mistaken version of Greek σιττύβας (sittubas), accusative plural of σιττύβα (sittuba) "parchment label"
pea: thought to be the singular of "pease"
termite: thought to be the singular form of "termites", the Latin plural of "termes"
sparrowgrass: alteration of "asparagus"
parsnip: borrowed from French "pasnaie" or Latin "pastinaca", with the ending changed by association with "turnip"
adder: formed from reanalysis of "a nadder"
apron: formed from reanalysis of "a napron"
newt: formed from reanalysis of "an ewt"
strive: borrowed from French, and originally had the past form "strived", but reanalyzed as strive-strove-striven by analogy with drive-drove-driven
hung: originally "heng", changed by analogy with sing-sung
"Book" used to be "bōc", plural "bēc". The plural "books" was an attempt to regularize it. That was a mistake. Many strong verbs were weakened: "bake" used to be a strong verb like take-took-taken but was regularized to bake-baked. That was a mistake.
female: borrowed from Latin "femella", changed by association with "male"This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
It's funny - Shu, who doesn't post much anymore - just asked me at dinner last night, "Do you know the plural of octopus?" You can imagine what he was looking for. I pointed him to our discussion.
Is an octopus with a missing arm a septuapus? With two missing, is it a sexapus or a hexapus? Using such logic, why isn't the plural octopodae?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Geoff,
A lesbian octopus is an Eadalodapus.